Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Picture this...."

My Photo Group had a demonstration of portrait lighting on Saturday.

I am pleased I drove to Summerville to attend.

A nice small group as Gary set up his lights and a reflector in a nice size meeting place in Coastal Coffee Roasters.

Had not been in here before and saw a weekend Farmer's Market was clearing out as we arrived.

Gary Eaton pointed out the key light (strobe with a reflector umbrella), and the glowing "hair light"

It did just as you could guess, placing emphasis on the hair to show texture as well as separating it from the background.

A white reflector added as a "fill light" to make sure the shadows were not too deep and dark.

We asked if the vivid background of empty coffee bean bags would be "too busy?"

Gary showed how a wide opened aperture on the camera would cause the bags to blur.

He controlled that blur by moving back or closer to the subject.

We would look at the back of his camera to see the effects of the lighting and positioning after each shot.

He described each step in the process as he balanced the light input, shutter speed and effects on the blurred background.

Starting with shooting film in the 1970s, he explained that now we could look at a digital image right away.

With film, he would shoot multiple images while bracketing exposures to get just what he wanted.

Each of us had a turn posing as the others made note of why and how Gary was tweaking the desired results.

Truly a demo as opposed to a lecture.

We would ask why and he would show us alternatives.

As usual, I used my newspaper experience by stepping back and capturing the whole overall scene.

Gary would show us the small image on the camera back and later, he would take the time to finesse the image into his final version.
These he later posted on the Photo Group's Facebook page.

I was pleased the way Gary had positioned me and his instructions to lean one way or the other to make his lighting work on my face.

Usually, I am on the other side of the camera so I knew that he had an image in mind and, by following his directions, together we would create a pleasing result.

In my case, I now had a current bearded photo that I could use to send out to Casting Directors looking for people to be selected as an Extra or BG (Back Ground actor).

Several tv shows - and a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis -  are being filmed in Charleston and I have appeared already in some and hope to be chosen for more.

Cameras are not allowed on set so this was a good opportunity to have some new images to send when I apply for a casting call.

Oh, did I mention the Coastal Coffee Roasters also houses Oak Road Brewing?

I had visited the Summerville brewhouse when on my quest to sample all 23 local craft beer breweries in the Charleston area.

I had visited the 23rd one - Commonhose Aleworks - on O'Hair Street in the Park Circle area the second week it had opened.

I am diligent so I noted the addition of many new vats at Oak Road.

Brewmaster & COO Brian Cox told me they had increased their capacity 10 X and were now distributing kegs all around the Summerville and Charleston area.

The t-shirt they had for sale touts the "drink local" concept and continues to promote growth among the growing local brewers population and their efforts.

The photographers who had gathered for the demo wandered in and carried pints back next door.

We are very supportive of a worthy cause.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Thanks for following my blog and today's "twofer" of a photo session and sippin' some freshly brewed cold suds.

Click on Brewery to see what I had to say as I visited all of our local craft beer makers sites and sampled their wares.

Stop by often and tell your friends.


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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Super Bowl MONDAY breakfast....

 OK. The Super Bowl LII is over.

It was an exciting game and the winner was in doubt as the scoring went back and forth.

No "blow out" here.

Quarterbacks - as usual - drew the most attention and the Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Most Valuable Player (MVP)... both for his passing and for his catching!

Yes, I was among the millions who enjoyed a pizza during the game.

Have no idea how many saved a slice for breakfast the next day.

I DO enjoy some cold pizza.

Along with scrambled egg (whites) and a peeled banana.

Watching my figure.

Here's the magic moment when Nick caught the TD pass.

Fast forward to Nick and the ride he caught with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

No, I did not take the last two pictures. Found them online.

Could not be at home eating pizza AND be at the game.

And, I was not invited to "Go to Disneyland!"

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Get up outta your seats!

 Went to see Pink Martini at the Gaillard the other night.

Had enjoyed them before, right after we had elected a new Mayor.

He was invited to come up and play a song on the piano and later led a Conga Line through the gorgeous place!

That time I did not fall in line behind the Mayor but I did send him a photo and received a thank you on his City letterhead.

I decided to take a "selfie" as we waited for the show to begin.

Remembering my missed opportunity before, I hoped I could get more involved with the 10-piece band.

Boy, did I ever!

Shortly after they started, an invitation was issued to "the ladies in the audience" to come onstage to dance a number.

Many accepted the offer and streamed up the steep steps on each side.

I hoped there would be a chance for us guys to also climb up there.

A bit later, another offer was made for couples to come up and dance behind the band - a much larger space - so up I went.

The view from the stage was great.

I liked being behind - and among -  the band for some outtasight angles as they played.

Pink Martini's lead singer Storm Large belted out several tunes as we admired the scene from her viewpoint.

A fun, special offer that was gladly accepted.
I can't ever recall being onstage in such a beautiful setting.

Not that I am onstage that often.

Once, years ago, while chairing a tourism conference in Missouri in a small hall, I tapped the mic and said: "Ahem, can you hear me in the back?"

A male voice loudly bellowed from a curtain behind me "Yeah, yes I can."

It was really cool to look at the musicians and the audience in the huge hall from a VERY different viewpoint.

The drummer caught my eye and I trained my phone cam on him.

I shuffled around in my stage right corner, peeked into the curtained wings and soaked in a satisfying moment.

I HAVE been backstage at the Music Farm, coming down the stairs from the Greenroom where the performers had idled and peeked onstage.

But, no "peeking" this time. Right out there among them!

And, yes, the "traditional" Conga line invitation later was announced and the audience members queued up and filled the aisles.

Eventually, they ended up crisscrossing the stage.

Maybe a Mayor was needed to organize and lead the bouncing, swaying procession?

Needless to say, that audience-involved activity was the finale of the show.

It was easier than usual to exit and head to my car.

Here are some additional photos from that delightful evening.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

End of the year!

The Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve (NYE),  are bookends for the year.

Well, at least, the last of one year and the first of the new one.

A December 25 treat for my cat was a toy I found online that fascinates her.

It actually lives up to the excited hype that describes "hours of fun for kitty."

Well, more like short stretches of a few minutes, but she does keep coming back for more.

These impulse buys don't always work out this good.

Still in the holiday mood,  I try to attend the annual NYE (New Year's Eve) "drop in" held downtown for the year's crop of retirees at the Post and Courier, at the paper's offices downtown on Columbus Street.

A nice buffet - with cake - is set up in the paper's large Conference Room on EOY (End Of Year) as close as possible to New Year's Eve.

I worked at the paper only 8 years as opposed to retirees I chat with at this event each year who were there 30 - 40 years or more.

The event is held from 1 pm to 3 pm so I usually opt for the photographer's reserved spot when I see it is empty.

Old habits die hard as I remember being a staff photographer for the San Deigo Union-Tribune Metro daily in southern California back in the 1960s. We were known to park anywhere we wanted when covering breaking news and deadlines were approaching!

I took my annual tour of the building and on the 3rd floor, walked out of the cafeteria to get a view of the back of the buildings going up at the Courier Square.

That was a new scene from the outdoor dining area.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Please come by again. I'll be here.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thinking outside of the (pizza) box...

 Joan Perry, a longtime friend - and fellow blogger - notified me about a new catering service being introduced by Mellow Mushroom.

She and I both were going to a "preview" at the Mellow's Avondale store to see what new food treats they would be offering along with their famed pizzas.

This store was converted a few years ago from a community movie theater. It's long and narrow and there still is a balcony upstairs above the entrance.

The balcony has comfortable table seating and a semi-circle table had been set up with a tasty array of the new catering menu.

Salads to the left and sandwiches to the right. I happened to be standing near the table as Karen Tassinari, Director of Catering, came over to open the neatly arranged covered boxes of samples.

She smiled and said, "You are at the front of the line."

I picked up a plate and followed her as she opened and described the contents of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches.

Kaen's card says she oversees catering there, King Street, North Charleston and Summerville.

Joan arrived as I sat at the table, looking over my choices.

She picked her favorites and came back to sit next to me and we compared our plates. We each chose a glass of the house red wine.

I said the baby kale, mixed with young spinach salad was tasty.

Joan said she had won a raffle recently and Mellow Mushroom provided a diverse catered lunch for 25 of her hospital volunteers at Roper-St. Francis.

Joan made it a first-come group because she had many more volunteers.

I was pleased she had notified me of this preview in Avondale.

I noticed a gentleman seated nearby who seemed to be answering questions about the foods. When I introduced myself, I found he was Todd LeBlanc, the chef who had designed the foods, in from Mellow Mushrooms's corporate headquarters in Atlanta.

Joan told Todd about the 25-person lunch that was catered and how pleased she was to have won the drawing. He thanked her for her interest in doing a follow-up to the source.

We all agreed this was a much better week to have such event rather than earlier during our ice and snow storm.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Weather in the Lowcountry..

We watched on tv as the icy, snow-laden weather streamed down from Canada.

It happens every year and we were somewhat smug that it usually doesn't come this far south.

I mean, we are described as "sub-tropic" and we have palm trees.

My yard has almost a dozen of them.

How South can you get?! Miami-like.

Oh, I heeded the drastic warnings and dire forecasts.

Oh boy, did I!

I realized my plants needed to be tended to.

Last year I had purchased a simple, $50 clear, plastic hothouse online from Amazon, just in case I ever needed to protect my smaller deck plants.

A l00-watt incandescent light bulb could be plugged in if additional heat protection was needed.
There was a brief - but heavy - snowfall in February 2014.

That reminded me that in 2010, Wallaby was my cat when we had some snow. He was an outside cat and he itched to go check this.

Wallaby galloped bravely down the snow-covered front steps and quickly realized this was NOT the "outside" he remembered.

He was out only a few minutes and raced back up the stairs, giving me a look that he did not appreciate whatever joke I was trying to pull! I think he also wanted longer legs.

With that quickly melting snowfall, things improved overnight, the palm trees popped back up as the snow melted and the silly Wallaby cat was ready - and eager - to be outside again.

The weathermen mentioned that previous brief snow - and the one in Hugo Year 1989 -  but warned this was a Snowmagedden Storm and we needed to make sure faucets were dripping and cross our fingers that the power (and heat!) did not go out when ice burdened limbs and power lines snapped.

This storm started late Tuesday with rain.

Lots of it, freezing as it hit the ground. I draped a sheet over the exposed plants and switched on the warming light bulb.

Wednesday I mainly looked out at the blanket of snow, snug inside and marveling at the amount that had fallen.

The excited weather people pegged it at just under 6-inches and Carolina drivers were hearing about the threat of "black ice."

That shocker extended all the way down to Tallahassee, Florida so this "climate change" was for real.

I had overlooked some items left outside on the deck and saw now I had a pair of "snowshoes."

During the day, some snow melted in the sunshine but quickly re-froze at night, creating treacherous slippery patches.

This was NOT going to be a brief, chilly inconvenience.

Projected temps for the next few days were going to be below freezing.

Even to a low of 16 degrees!

My slowly dripping faucet was still keeping my pipes from freezing.

Hardy younger neighbors had never hesitated to go and romp in the snow while it was still falling.

Note the socks used as gloves!

I could hear a few cars crunching their way past my house that reminded me of the year I had lived up in Minnesota.

Hmmm, were there oleanders that far north?

After venturing out into my yard on Thursday, I listened closely to traffic conditions and decided on Friday to attend a quarterly luncheon of the Post and Courier Retirees Gang.

I called and learned the restaurant had been closed since the storm struck but had re-opened Friday morning.

A slow and careful drive to Liberty Tap Room in Mt Pleasant was uneventful. Whew.

Stepped inside and saw the Liberty staff had arranged our meeting space to accommodate the 15-20  guys who usually attended.

I saw one other retiree and, soon, two more joined us.

Instead of messing up the neat setup, we sat at a table of four and listened to staffers tell us their snow and ice stories and we shared ours.

My situation at home was fairly close to the others. We all were concerned and were careful driving.

But a few close calls were cited as other drivers drove as if there was no ice and we all agreed, right now slipping and sliding, was a fact of life.

Because I did not lose power, my home was toasty comfortable, and my cat just took it for granted.

She had no interruption of her Kibble, things looked the same for her and her cat naps were the usual 16-hours a day.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

A change in the weather did not really alter what I was doing.

I did scrape the snow and ice off my deck and shook the snow off the sheet I had placed on the larger plants.

Then, I unzipped the small clear plastic greenhouse.

I turned off the bulb that had kept it warm inside.
and was rewarded with the sight of a fresh blooming flower.

That was $50 well spent for the plants.

Below are some other random snow photos, including one when my station wagon almost disappeared during the one year I lived in Minnesota.

While living in Minnetonka, I was offered a job in the Florida Division of Tourism.

They asked if I wanted to come down and check it out.

I laughed and said I accept the job sight-unseen. No hesitation.

The job was in Florida and I had just spent a year where Winter was invented!

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tis the season for eatin'.......

 Ever since I saw the classic movie A Christmas Story, I think of the Asian dinner the family had on Christmas Eve.

No goose with a long neck though!

I think it is (possibly) a FACT that these restaurants always stay open at Yule time.

All the other eateries are closed and the staff is at home with family.

The Green Garden opened around the corner from my house last year and - so far - it has been open on Christmas. Got the Lemon chicken and veggies to go.

Enough left over for a second meal.

My brother and his wife invited me to have Christmas dinner at his house.

We ate together on Turkey Day and I had brought along a pie and ice cream.

Guess I started a "tradition" -  invite the bachelor bro and he'll bring a pie.

This time I bought a frozen one, read the label carefully and baked it for 55-minutes and it was perfect!

The crumbled topping and the crust were crispy.

I thought he even had provided vanilla ice cream but it was frozen yogurt. Hmm, I'll have to remember that.

The day before I had stopped for a late breakfast at a diner on Daniel Island after seeing my skin doctor.

She told me the earlier blemish that she had frozen off my cheek was completely gone.

She reminded me to apply sunblock there - and on my lips - four times a day to be safe.

The dentist tells me to floss after every meal. I listen to both doctors.

Well, I DO listen.

Please note, I paid extra for the breakfast to add sausage to the bacon that came with it.

And, instead of standard hashbrowns, this came with diced potatoes...including some sweet potatoes. How could I refuse?

In addition to now actually cooking a meal (well, one frozen apple pie), I have started making Avocado Toast.

More than once!

This whole idea of living alone and making a grocery list every week (well, sometimes two weeks go by), is still fairly new.

The internet is a great source of quick directions. I have had some frozen salmon filets and just figured out they can be zapped in the microwave fairly easily.

Meanwhile, Wallis, the orange cat has shown my investment in an amusing cat toy is paying off.

She ignored it for more than a week, then she would join me in playing with it until I got bored and walked away.

Now, she not only spins the three brightly-colored ping pong balls, using her paw to push them, she will nudge the device around the room until it is sitting where she wants it.

She also has added a new feature for it to entertain her...
She manages to wrest one of the balls from its loop and it slowly rolls across the carpet.
So far, just the pink one, on the bottom.

(Clik on the links and photos for more details)

Eating and playing with the cat.

Retirement is a full-time effort.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

A Semper Fi "war story"....

I was telling a buddy of mine how much I enjoyed his stories about his Army days overseas in Italy and aboard troop ships getting there and coming back.

He crammed a lot of "unofficial" events into his military memory floggers.

Then, one day, I asked how long had he served and he said he was a 2-year draftee.

Wow, the tales he told about in that short time span.

My only Marine Corps time out of the United States was to an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, which of course, is a territory of the US, along with Guam and, I think,  Samoa.

In my four-month stint on the small island of Vieques, in 1960, I was attached as a photographer to a tank Battalion from Camp Lejeune.

It also included my only ocean voyage, but not aboard a fancy cruise ship.

It was the USS Fremont, a flat-bottomed attack troop carrier from WWII and it bounced us down from North Carolina for 7 days, culminating with a USMC training pre-dawn landing.

It was like every war movie I had seen in my young life,  tightening our helmet strap, donning a life jacket, hoisting our backpacks, and slowly climbing down the side of the ship on scratchy brown cargo nets.

We timed our release to drop down into the bobbing small landing craft and hoped it would not be surging up when our boots made contact.

The training was pretty authentic and we could see and hear loud explosions on the beach ahead.

My job as a combat camera toter was to wade ashore and race ahead of the landing troops with my camera.

(It helped a whole lot that nobody was actually firing at us!)

I remember there were quite a few LCP (Landing Craft Personnel) as daybreak slowly lighted up the beach.

We could see signed areas warning us to keep away from the planted explosions that were booming to create the sounds and noise of an actual combat landing of troops.

I heard later that two Marines had died when one of the LCPs had sunk. However, I don't recall that was actually ever confirmed.

It was my first view of a Marine Corps Amtrack vehicle used in an amphibious landing.
Once ashore,
the tankers set up their Tent City rows of 5-man units like everyone later saw on tv in M*A*S*H.

As a photographer, I was issued a military field portable darkroom.

It was divided into a section for storage of equipment and a light-proof side for processing film and making contact b&w prints.

These were 4x5 inches, large enough to show the Colonel what I had taken that day of their training exercises with tanks.

 The darkroom was protected from the sun with a large outer tent that provided shade from the relentless tropical sun.

The whole unit was quite a  functional design.

It broke down into several large - but manageable - large crates.

I scavaged wooden pallets to provide a floor for my workplace and the middle section contained a cooling fan to kept film cool ... and it also was a cool place to store Cokes. As in Rum & Coke and cans of beer.

After a site was selected and the unit erected, I saw it was in close proximity to the area of the Officers Club (large tent).

I guess a young Lieutenant heard about my neighboring photo operation and he paid me a visit to see what was involved.

We became friendy (I was a 20-year old Cpl E-4, he was 23) and he was a very good amateur photographer.

We discussed a lot about taking photos and one Saturday morning, he requisitioned a jeep and we took off on a photo jaunt into the "jungle" outside our camp.

Not really a jungle and it had a few trails laughingly called roads.

As we climbed into the jeep with our cameras, I casually mentioned I had a small .25 caliber pistol. that I would like to include in case there were animals that might be a threat. He said, "Sure, that makes sense."

Yikes. He didn't ask why I had a non-disclosed, non-issued, weapon and I can't recall how I got it, why I had it packed in my gear and whatever happened to it later.

As we ventured in the opposite direction from the camp's recreational beach, he reminded me there was a lot of unexploded ordnance where we were headed inland.

The Navy used most of the uninhabited part of the island as a target for their guns and planes dropped bombs there.

I realized we really didn't have permission to go there but - what the hell!

We took turns firing a whole box of ammo that I had.

None of the coconuts we shot in trees actually fell because it was a very small gun.

The other good news is we did not get blown up and nobody ever asked me about the trip we had taken and I am sure the officer never mentioned it either.

As I think about it now, he was complicit in the deed and it would have weighed more heavily on him.

I'm also thinking that the statute of limitations has long passed.

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